Live, naked girls

Every few days brings a story pitch from some long-suffering PR professional. Today’s mail finds this plea on behalf of IAM Corp.:

Since the beginning of online gaming, every other market has flocked to Live Dealer Casinos, but the US market. ‘Live Dealer’ is an online casino that features an attractive young female who is dealing cards or running whatever the game may be in real life. The feed is brought to players from a studio, via camera, all in real-time, while the player is sitting in their living room. It is currently the gaming experience of choice throughout Asia and quickly becoming the rage in Europe and Russia where the Live Casino mimics the experience at a resort casino.

One could also say it “mimics the experience at the Vegas Club,” a grind joint where dealers (dealerettes?) wear the tamest “fetish” gear imaginable. Heck, those “Live Dealer” gals could be stark naked and it wouldn’t help them a bit in the U.S. because Internet gambling is illegal here. (Or rather, banks can’t process your Net-bet transactions.) Shouldn’t be. But it is. So IAM is barking up the wrong tree, at least until Congress repeals UIGEA or Hell freezes over. (I’m betting on icicles in Hell, personally.)

“What is this ‘Tea Party’ of which you speak?” Casino analyst Jonathan Galaviz‘s international clients must be giving him that query a lot because today’s mail also brought in a lengthy Galaviz ‘explainer’ of the whole Tea Party phenomenon. Seriously, the blast is slugged, “Helping our Asian clients understand American politics.” (Hey, Asia, don’t feel so bad: We have a pretty hard time understanding it ourselves.) Many of Galaviz’s contentions re the Tea Party(s) are debatable, such as characterizing it as essentially libertarian when some of its most favored candidates are disciples of the “strong father” philosophy of governance.

Since forecasting the economic state of a post-Tea Party America would require clairvoyance, Galaviz confines himself to this observation: “No foreign investor is going to be comfortable making huge private sector investments into a country with a $1.4 trillion … annual budget deficit, with no end in sight.” The new, stateside presence of Genting Bhd and Onex Corp. argues otherwise — and one doesn’t need to think long or hard to come up with the names of overseas companies that giddily bought into the casino industry when asset prices were at their peak (El Ad Properties, Crown Ltd., Tamares Group, Dubai World, to name four) and lived to regret it. Now that Las Vegas Strip land and casinos from Atlantic City westward are going for fire-sale prices, this might be the best time yet to “buy American.” Get in while getting’s cheap.

An eagle-eyed S&G subscriber set straight the misperception by Felix Salmon of Reuters that “there aren’t many economists who are also prominent corporate executives.” Salmon had forgotten Gary Loveman of little old Harrah’s Entertainment. Good work! As the reader points out, Loveman’s skill set is not unlike that of fellow Harvard boffin — and outgoing White House economic guru — Lawrence Summers: “[T]hink of the similarities: taking on massive new debt in a declining market. Remind you of anyone in the news right now?”


Think small. Former Atlantic City mayor and current state Sen. James Whelan has rethought this “boutique casino” idea. Instead of allowing any old hotel with 200 hotel rooms to tack on a casino, the proposal would apply to newly built properties only and would restrict them to the Boardwalk area.This opens the door to destination-quality attractions (as opposed to a bunch of locals casinos), although it won’t do much to improve the hotel-room base in Atlantic City. Adding at least two casinos in a time of severe market contraction also seems a mite counterintuitive but that’s ultimately for the customer to decide. Heck, it may even apply the pressure necessary for laggards like “Dump Marina” to either improve or get out of town.

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